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UAMS Researcher Secures $1.2 Million Grant to Study DNA Damage


A University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences professor and researcher has been awarded a $1.2 million grant to fund work that could impact diseases such as dementia, ALS and cancer.

Robert Eoff, Ph.D. received the $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to further his research on DNA damage and cell replication. According to Eoff’s UAMS website, the goal of his research is to understand “how DNA damage tolerance impacts genome stability, patient response to treatment and tumor recurrence in certain cancers.”

In addition to serving as an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the UAMS College of Medicine, Eoff is also a member of UAMS’ Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. He is collaborating with Julie Gunderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics at Hendrix, on the research project.

The research project is focused on what occurs when DNA damage is not repaired quickly enough and interferes with the creation of new cells.

“Imagine trying to copy a document containing over six billion letters in the span of a few hours,” Eoff said. “Now imagine finding that the text contains many words like ‘Mississippi,’ ‘Czechoslovakia,’ ‘Oberschleissheim’ and ‘Solgohachia.’ Even though you’re on a tight schedule, you might have to slow down a bit when you come to those tricky words.

According to a UAMS release, the National Science Foundation funds will be used to help study an enzyme called Rev1 and the role it plays in copying structures called G-quadruplexes (G4).

“Successful completion of this research will give us a better understanding of how G4 replication errors occur and how they might have come about in the first place,” Eoff said. “Hopefully, this will give us new insight into replication barriers, which cause a wide range of issues in humans and other species, as a first step toward putting this greater understanding to use in the form of new treatments and therapies.”

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Image courtesy of UAMS

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